Early Work

"I see myself neither as 'heroine' or 'victim', but merely as a person in struggle." Jo Spence



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    Hackney Flashers Collective
A revolving collective of feminist and socialist women who produced a number of exhibitions including ‘Who’s Holding the Baby?’ and ‘Women and Work’. Emerging from the activities of the Photography Workshop, the group was established in 1974. Their work was often shown in colleges, libraries and community centres. The group’s aim was to document invisible female work, legitimatizing the economic and social worth of women’s labour.

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    Beyond the Family Album

"I began (through Beyond the Family Album) to reverse the process of the way I had been constructed as a woman by deconstructing myself visually in an attempt to identify the process by which I had been 'put together'. I still feel that personal is political. There is no way I could have understood fully the political implications of trying to represent other people (however well intentioned) if I had not first of all begun to explore how I had built a view of myself through other people's representations of me." Jo Spence

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    Remodelling Photo History

"We would find it strange if health workers did not try to criticise their own industry, to aim for better control over their working conditions, to have accountability to their users. Yet within the various disparate workplaces of photography this is not seen as a priority. Remodelling Photohistory is an exploration of our own recent attempts to work through some aspects of this problem by 'making strange', using as our starting point the everyday, normalised, institutional practices and codes of 'the trade', re-ordered, re-modelled, re-invented, so that their common sense, unquestioned notions become disrupted." Jo Spence & Terry Dennett

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    Cancer Shock

"One morning, whilst reading, I was confronted by the awesome reality of a young white-coated doctor, with student retinue, standing by my bedside. As he referred to his notes, without introduction, he bent over me and began to ink a cross onto the area of flesh above my left breast. As he did a whole chaotic series of images flashed through my head. Rather like drowning. I heard this doctor, whom I had never met before, this potential mugger, tell me that my left breast would have to be removed. Equally I heard myself answer, 'No'. Incredulously; rebelliously; suddenly; angrily; attackingly; pathetically; alone; in total ignorance." Jo Spence

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    The Picture of Health?

"Whatever processes we deploy as family historians, in telling stories about the past, in making theoretical accounts of our lives, or in reliving our past memories and traumas in the 'talking cures' of psychotherapy, the use of photography has been virtually ignored as part of our history making process." Jo Spence

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    Phototherapy

"Traditionally, the portrait is typified by the notion that people can be represented by showing aspects of their 'character'. We understand the portrait differently. Instead of fixity, to us it represents a range of possibilities which can be brought into play at will, examined, questioned, accepted, transformed, discarded. Drawing on techniques learned from co-counselling, psycho-drama and the reframing technique we began to work together to give ourselves and each other permission to display 'new' visual selves to the camera." Rosy Martin and Jo Spence

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    Narratives of Disease

"How do we begin to speak about what it is like to live with cancer? How do we find a language to express ourselves? What are we able to say if we turn to the medical language of tumours, drugs, and surgical procedures: a language which is crucial to medical professionals in helping to diagnose and treat cancer but which can only speak of people as mechanical objects? Can we make use of the non medical language of bodies which is obsessed with the idealism of youth and beauty?" Jo Spence

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    Final Project

"What upset Jo most about death and non-being was that she would no longer be able to see what was going on in society. She knew that no one could communicate with her, and she couldn't communicate with anyone else. She would be out of the loop. People, communication and sharing were central to her life." Terry Dennett


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    Installation Images
Selected installation images from recent exhibitions.

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